BUT NOT NEXT DOOR by Harry & Davil Rosen


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In November of 1959, the citizens of Deerfield, Illinois received the news that Morris Milgrim planned to build a small, private development of family houses in the Floral Park area. The homes ten, possibly twelve, of the fifty-one -- were to be open to limited and controlled Negro occupancy. What transpired in this typical suburban community as a result of Milgrim's idealism is the subject of the Rosens' extraordinary documentary of hysteria, fortified by what Jacob Javits in his introduction to the book calls ""The mythology of minority occupancy and property values."" The authors have culled from experience, observation, personal interviews, newspaper stories, and court records. They stray into form only in the introduction of three composite resident families, that they claim are ""created out of the feelings and actions of the people in Deerfield"". Reproduced are circulars and minutes of meetings, characterized by continual disavowal of all racial concerns. But when fact and figure whittle away myth and misconception, a very ugly ultimate premise is often exposed. The religious leaders in Deerfield sermonized on brotherly love and the lunatic fringe brought in Jewish influence and Bolshevik manipulation. Town began to sound like the product of collaboration between Mort Sahl and John Csper. And after all else failed, an ingenious referendum made domain eminent. A junior high school and some parks stand in place of the homes. Superb coordination and fine journalism distinguish an important work.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1962
Publisher: Obolensky